Immoral Consensus


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T he next British general election, in , suggested a new era of political harmony and equilibrium. Yet there was one significant difference between the two contests. The turnout was strikingly low: Many commentators and Labour figures discounted this as a consequence of a one-sided election.

The Conservatives were still offering voters tired Thatcherite policies, and were awkwardly led by William Hague. Giddens was relatively sanguine about the situation. Yet by the early 00s it was also becoming clear that there was something unsatisfying about the third way. It was a retreat. Its notion of the political was extremely narrow. Government became mainly about competence, and measuring that competence. But the most vivid condemnation of third way politics came from the melodramatic German conservative philosopher Peter Sloterdijk in People live in yards.

Preferences for moral vs. immoral traits in others are conditional

Yet the fact that former New Labour figures so often respond to criticisms of their governments with policy detail is revealing: Moreover, in government as in business, basing your public appeal on competence and efficiency is a risk. Even when policies did succeed, voters often did not believe they had, thanks to the distorting efforts of the tabloids. His government suffered the consequences. On radio phone-ins in the early 00s, callers would routinely castigate it for failing to do things, such as reduce crime, that it was already doing.

R ightwing populist parties had begun to make electoral breakthroughs in France, Austria and Italy during the 80s and early 90s. In each case, the populists moved into political space left vacant by mainstream parties congregating ever more tightly on the centre ground. Ed Miliband, who during the 90s and 00s was busy rising from Brown adviser to MP to minister, remembers: Others in New Labour convinced themselves that the third way had its own populist dimension. He was a privately educated ex-barrister, and his MPs were more middle-class than any previous Labour cohort; yet, at first, this anti-establishment tone was not completely absurd.

Millions of those who voted Labour in did so in a vaguely rebellious spirit: Yet as the Blair government lengthened, and its principal figures seemed more entrenched and entitled, this sense of New Labour as a populist insurgency steadily diminished. As one of its former ministers puts it, in revealingly bureaucratic language: Tell that to the Uber driver!

Yet in the mids Miliband was a relatively junior New Labour figure.

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party

And not many in the government shared his reflectiveness. And they were strangely anti-intellectual in some ways, in believing that globalisation was like the weather and that they had a unique understanding of the modern world. They had been shaped, as most of us are, by how they saw politics around them as young adults. They had grown up with the idea that the left became too strong and aggressive in the 70s, and that Thatcherism, for all its flaws, had rescued Britain in the 80s. They did not fully appreciate that by the time Labour finally returned to power in , let alone by the 00s, both of those forces had faded.

With its weak unions and over-mighty banks, Britain was no longer a country that needed a government that curbed the left and revered business — assuming it ever had.


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Yet New Labour and its third way gurus had too much confidence in their own judgment to adjust their thinking and policies when their picture of Britain as a free-market success story became out of date. They also had too much contempt for the left — obsolete, in their view, because it still believed in conflict and the left-right division — to take on board its valid insights into the brittleness of modern capitalism.

The third way gradually dropped out of use as a New Labour term in the mids. The Iraq war and its acrimonious prelude and aftermath, and the ever more obvious feud between Blair and Brown, made it steadily harder to sustain the notion that New Labour was practising a politics of consensus. Blair stepped down as prime minister in ; when he published his memoirs afterwards, he only mentioned the third way five times in pages. Giddens did not feature.

T hese days, former Blairites rarely talk about the third way. Yet their faith in consensus politics remains. None of those I spoke to, except to an extent Ed Miliband, were prepared to accept that Corbyn had been right to make Labour a more confrontational party again. Participants saw two target people, and we described one target person as merciful and the other as merciless. The only other difference between the two targets was that one was depicted using a purple avatar, and the other was depicted using an orange avatar; we counterbalanced which avatar was described as merciful and which was described as merciless see Supporting Information , Section 1.

We included counterbalancing variables in all analyses across experiments. Counterbalancing had no effect on any of the outcomes reported here. We expected that all participants, regardless of motivational context, would perceive mercifulness as positively related to moral character To confirm this prediction, we asked participants to provide character ratings of both jurors.

Specifically, participants rated both jurors on morality, warmth a central character dimension comprising sociability and morality 16 , 17 , 32 , and desirability as a close friend. Thus, participants ought to rate the target they perceive to be more moral as the more desirable close friend, regardless of their current feelings toward the targets in the context of the criminal trial As predicted, the results of all three character ratings indicate that both attorneys perceived mercifulness as positively related to moral character Fig.

Perceived morality, perceived warmth, and desire for friendship as a function of mercifulness merciful vs. We also expected that defense attorneys who must secure a not-guilty verdict would perceive mercifulness as positively related to goal-conduciveness, whereas prosecuting attorneys who must secure a guilty verdict would perceive mercifulness as negatively related to goal-conduciveness.

To summarize thus far, both attorneys perceived mercifulness as positively related to moral character, but only defense attorneys perceived mercifulness as positively related to goal-conduciveness. This allows a critical test of the morality dominance hypothesis. The explicit measure was a pair of feelings thermometers; we asked participants to indicate how warm their feelings were toward the two jurors. The implicit measure was an implicit association test IAT The IAT taps the extent to which participants automatically associate the two jurors with positive vs.

We included the IAT because it is relatively immune to demand effects; past research has shown that participants are unable to fake their attitudes on the IAT unless they are provided a specific strategy 34 , Thus, if the results of the IAT parallel the results of the feelings thermometers, experimenter demand can be ruled out as an alternative explanation.

We also wanted to ensure that any effects on explicit and implicit liking were not caused by variance in character ratings morality, warmth, competence, and so forth. Thus, in each study, we subtracted the moral target's character ratings from the immoral target's character ratings and included each difference score as a covariate in analyses of liking excluding these covariates had no meaningful effect on any results. This finding suggests that, contrary to the consensus in the literature, the preference for moral vs.

Explicit liking as a function of mercifulness merciful vs. Higher scores correspond to greater liking. The IAT results corroborate these findings. Using the improved algorithm of Greenwald et al. Positive scores indicate a preference for the merciful over the merciless juror, and negative scores indicate a preference for the merciless over the merciful juror.

Thus, the implicit preference for moral vs. Implicit preference for the merciful juror vs. Positive scores indicate greater liking for the merciful vs. Together, these findings suggest that the preference for moral vs. Specifically, we found that the preference for mercifulness vs. Mercifulness was perceived as positively related to moral character across conditions, but it promoted liking only among participants who perceived it as positively related to goal-conduciveness.

That we found this pattern of results on explicit and implicit measures of liking rules out experimenter demand as an alternative explanation. On the whole, these results oppose the notion that the effect of morality traits on liking is dominant. On the contrary, it seems that the preference for moral vs. One might argue that, although the preference for mercifulness in others is conditional, preferences for traits that are more central to moral character are not.

Metaethics: Crash Course Philosophy #32

Also, people self-report that they value trustworthiness in others regardless of the specific task, goal, or function of the target person 5. Thus, manipulating trustworthiness allows an especially strong test of the hypothesis that the preference for moral vs. Experiment 2 began with participants learning that they would play a game involving a battle of counterintelligence. All participants were told that players would choose a spy, whose job it would be to carry out counterintelligence operations against an opponent.

In one motivational context, we told participants that they would choose their own spy. Thus, participants in this condition had to choose the most effective spy. Thus, participants in this condition had to sabotage the opposition by choosing the least effective spy. All participants were instructed to choose between two spies: We predicted that, regardless of motivational context, participants would perceive honesty to be positively related to moral character.

New Research In

To confirm this prediction, we asked participants to provide character ratings of both spies on the same three dimensions as in experiment 1 morality, warmth, and desirability as a close friend. In addition, we asked participants to rate how similar they would like to be to the two spies [previous work shows that people highly value moral character in themselves 38 ]. As predicted, the results of all four measures indicate that participants in both motivational contexts perceived honesty to be positively related to moral character Fig.

Perceived morality, perceived warmth, desire for friendship, and desire for similarity as a function of honesty honest vs. We tested these predictions using the same explicit and implicit measures of liking as in experiment 1. Explicit liking of spies as a function of honesty honest vs. Thus, the implicit preference for honesty vs. Implicit preference for the honest over the dishonest spy as a function of motivational context own spy vs. Positive scores indicate greater liking for the honest spy vs.

These findings replicate and extend the results of experiment 1. Honesty was perceived as positively related to moral character across conditions, but it promoted liking among participants only in the condition in which honesty was goal-conducive. Again, we found this pattern of results for explicit and implicit liking, ruling out experimenter demand as an alternative explanation. Thus, the preference for even the most paradigmatic of all morality traits, trustworthiness, appears to be conditional on the demands of our current goals. Participants may have little prior experience evaluating jurors and spies, which raises the question: Are preferences for moral traits conditional in more familiar domains?

We addressed this question in the context of relationships, a highly familiar domain relevant to morality, with the majority of Americans agreeing that sexual infidelity is immoral 39 , a view codified in religious doctrines as well. Moreover, the moral importance of sexual fidelity may be particularly important for women. Sexual promiscuity is more strongly proscribed for women than men 40 , which likely has evolutionary roots. Among animals with internal fertilization, males are vulnerable to cuckoldry, that is, to caring for young produced by their mates but sired by their rivals.

As a result, biparental males have evolved numerous anticuckoldry tactics. A proponent of the morality dominance hypothesis might predict that one such tactic is a dominant preference for fidelity over infidelity in women. On this alternative account, men motivated to initiate a romantic relationship might cease to like fidelity in married women, since fidelitous married women are unavailable and therefore nonconducive to relationship initiation. In experiment 3 we pit these alternative predictions against each other.

Rather than induce situational goals by manipulating task demands as in experiments 1 and 2, we explored the effects of the relatively chronic relationship initiation goals that participants brought with them to the experimental setting see Supporting Information , Section 3. Specifically, we recruited white, heterosexual men and women, assessed whether they were in a committed romantic relationship, and then measured their evaluations of two white, heterosexual female targets, one fidelitous and one infidelitous.

Given that uncommitted people are more motivated than committed people to initiate new romantic relationships 41 , the motivation to initiate a new romantic relationship with a female target should be higher among uncommitted male participants than among committed male participants and all female participants.

Thus, if the preference for morality traits in others is conditional on relatively chronic relationship initiation goals, then any preference for the fidelitous target over the infidelitous target should be eliminated or reversed specifically among uncommitted men. Participants began the study by completing an individual difference measure of relationship status and then proceeded to view screenshots taken from two real websites: The screenshot taken from theknot.

I simply cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with this perfect man! Hot dates leading to sexy fun every weekend. The photos were counterbalanced across conditions. To confirm that fidelity is perceived as being related to morality, we collected character ratings of morality and warmth. These results allow a valid test of the morality dominance hypothesis. If the preference for fidelity in others is dominant, then participants should prefer the fidelitous woman to the infidelitous woman regardless of gender and relationship status.

However, if our preference for fidelity in others is conditional on the demands of our current goals, then the preference for the fidelitous woman over the infidelitous woman should be eliminated or reversed among uncommitted men, since fidelity in married women is not conducive to relationship initiation. Perceived morality and warmth as a function of fidelity fidelitous vs. As in experiments 1 and 2, we measured explicit liking using feelings thermometers. However, we changed the implicit measure from the IAT to the affect misattribute procedure AMP 42 to generalize our findings to another implicit measure.

These results are in line with the morality dominance hypothesis, as fidelity was positively related to liking among both men and women regardless of relationship status. Explicit liking as a function of fidelity fidelitous vs. The pattern of implicit liking paints a different picture Fig. Implicit preference for the fidelitous target over the infidelitous target as a function of gender male vs.

Positive scores indicate preferences for the fidelitous target over the infidelitous target; negative scores indicate preferences for the infidelitous target over the fidelitous target. These findings provide further support for the idea that preferences for morality traits in others are conditional on the demands of our current goals. Although uncommitted men maintained an explicit preference for fidelity over infidelity, their implicit preference was eliminated in the direction of favoring infidelity.

It is possible that the patterns of implicit and explicit attitude change diverged because uncommitted men did not want to admit to preferring the infidelitous woman. Alternatively, the implicit and explicit measures may have tapped two different but genuine evaluative responses toward the target women. In either event, heterosexual men did not have a dominant preference for fidelity in women, providing additional evidence against the morality dominance hypothesis.

This page translator works on Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only. Seasonal events Science vs. Today's religious and secular moral systems. Hard Passages in the Bible. Interpreting hard passages from different Biblical viewpoints. This includes the "hard passages. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

So, the passage must have referred to the Hebrew Scriptures Old Testament only. However, the verse is commonly used today to refer to the entire Bible. Religious conservatives believe that much of the apparent immorality in the Hebrew Scriptures' hard passages are human misunderstanding because Jehovah is both a God of love and of justice. God, as a wholly just being, must sometimes punish rebellious individuals and groups for their sins in ways that we find difficult to understand.

Liberal Christians tend to regard the Bible as a series of somewhat imperfect documents, which individual authors and later forgers used to introduce and promote their own competing religious beliefs. Religious thought is seen as evolving during the period from about BCE to CE when the various books of the Bible were written.

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Liberals feel that some "hard passages" and other Biblical passages reflect an earlier, lower standard of morality and should be ignored. They are dangerous to the religious belief, spirituality and ethics of today's readers. These passages include verses which condone and regulate slavery , which advocate discrimination against women , which promote religious hatred and intolerance , which denigrate homosexuals , which describe the killing of innocent people, genocide, etc.

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